It’s amazing to me how life can take you places that you never expected. If you had asked me five years ago if I would ever live in Texas, me and my east-coast-liberal sensitivities would have very confidently told you no. Now, here I am, going on my fourth year in Texas (albeit a very, VERY blue part of it). If you had asked me two years ago if I’d uproot my life to go live on the other side of the world for six months, I would have told you…well, yes….but I definitely had no concrete plans on how to go about it. Then life happened.
First, Elijah’s company opened an office in Austin and asked him to move. They weren’t closing the office in D.C., so we could always move back if we hated it. My principal told me she’d hire me back if I ever returned. Basically, life presented us with an adventure and a safety net to go along with it. How could we say no? We decided it would be a fun adventure for a year or two. But life is unpredictable. We fell in love with Austin, we made friends, and Elijah switched to a different company. Now here we are in our fourth year of a one to two year adventure.
Then there was my job. I love being a special education teacher. I love that I have to be analytical and creative at the same time. I love tailoring lessons to individual students, and I love celebrating their progress. I was able to focus on all the things that I love for the first few years, but by year five it was getting harder and harder. It’s hard to continue loving something when all the things you loved about it start dwindling. You often hear this described as teacher burnout. It’s not teaching that burns teachers out, though. It’s everything else. It’s how broken our system is. It’s knowing exactly what you need to do for each student, and not being able to do it because your hands are tied by money and bureaucracy. This is where I was by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
Elijah knew how I was feeling and he knew that I’d always thought I’d take on a different role in education at some point, but that I was not sure what it would be. This question – what the next step should be – had been plaguing me. I was exhausted and frustrated and needed a change. However, it’s hard to reroute your life when all you know is the tiny bubble in which you’ve existed. All I knew was that something had to give, but none of the obvious paths seemed right for me.
Then, one day during the summer of 2017 I got an email from Elijah. He’d been googling opportunities for himself and stumbled upon the Fulbright DAT. I clicked on the link and I got that feeling you get when you know you have found your path. It was the same feeling I got the first time I visited The College of William and Mary. I knew I was meant to go there, and I knew I was meant to do this Fulbright.
I am not sure where this Fulbright experience will lead me, but it makes me feel hopeful and excited again. I’m hopeful that I will come back rejuvenated and excited to be an educator again. I’m hopeful that I will learn ways to improve our education system. I’m hopeful that I will find the right path for myself. I’m excited to meet a diverse group of intelligent people who will impact my life in ways I don’t know yet. I’m excited to experience a new culture. Most of all, I’m excited to see where this all takes me.
Here’s to our 6 month adventure! If history repeats itself it may just turn into a couple of years. 😉 (Just kidding, mom. I’ll come home in July 🙂 )